Samphire Hoe Country Park

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Samphire Hoe Country Park
Samphire Hoe - - 12768.jpg
Samphire Hoe
Coordinates51°06′20″N 1°16′30″E / 51.1056°N 1.2750°E / 51.1056; 1.2750Coordinates: 51°06′20″N 1°16′30″E / 51.1056°N 1.2750°E / 51.1056; 1.2750
Area30 hectares (300,000 m2)
Created1997 (1997)
Operated byWhite Cliffs Countryside Project
StatusOpen 7 days a week, dawn until dusk
ParkingPaid parking
Samphire Hoe Country Park is located in Kent
Samphire Hoe Country Park
Samphire Hoe shown within Kent (grid reference TR293391)

Samphire Hoe Country Park is a country park situated 2 miles (3 km) west of Dover in Kent in southeast England. The park was created by using 4.9 million cubic metres of chalk marl from the Channel Tunnel excavations and is found at the bottom of a section of the White Cliffs of Dover.[1] The site is owned by Eurotunnel Ltd., and managed by the White Cliffs Countryside Project.[2]

It is accessible by the public via a single-track tunnel controlled by traffic lights, which crosses over the South Eastern Main Line running in a tunnel underneath. Visitor facilities are provided, including car parking, toilets and a tea kiosk.

Origin of the name[edit]

Samphire Hoe is named after the wild plant rock samphire that was once collected from the Dover cliffs; its fleshy green leaves were picked in May and pickled in barrels of brine and sent to London, where it was served as a dish to accompany meat. A 'hoe' is a piece of land which sticks out into the sea.[3]

The name was coined by Mrs Gillian Janaway, a retired primary school teacher from Dover, by way of a public competition.[4]

History of the area[edit]

Samphire Hoe. In the background are the tall twin portals to the Shakespeare Tunnel, in the middle is the road access tunnel to the Hoe, from the A20 above the cliff, and on the right is one of the Channel Tunnel equipment sheds.

The cliffs above the current park (Round Down Cliff) were blown up with gunpowder in 1843 to aid the creation of the Dover to Folkestone railway. In 1880 an attempt was made from the site to create a tunnel that would pass under the English Channel but it failed shortly afterwards. In 1895 a coal mine was sunk there but this closed in 1921 after being very unsuccessful.[5] These activities were served by Shakespeare Cliff Halt railway station at the western end of the Shakespeare Cliff tunnel; the remains of the platforms can be seen from the road to the car park. A community of fisherfolk and others once lived at the foot of Shakespeare Cliff.[6]

In the 1980s the site was deemed the most suitable of 60 proposed to dump chalk from Channel Tunnel excavations, and work began on it in 1988. As the 30 hectares that make up the park were totally reclaimed from the sea, the first job to be completed was the building of walls in the sea to create an artificial lagoon. It was completed in 1994 and opened by Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand. It opened to the public in 1997.


Samphire Hoe beneath the White Cliffs of Dover looking towards Folkestone.

The park now attracts around 110,000 visitors per year. Walking, cycling, angling on the sea wall and bird watching are some of the activities available. The park is open between 7am and dusk; admittance is free and car parking is £2.[7] It is very wheelchair friendly and an education room is available for school use.

The site has a walking trail and serves as a wildlife area. Samphire Hoe has been managed by the White Cliffs Countryside Project, in partnership with the owner, Eurotunnel.[8]

Walking trail[edit]

Samphire Hoe has a walking path which makes a full circuit of 2 kilometres (1.2 mi).[9] The level of the path has mild slopes with an average gradient of 1:15, though a little steeper in places, and with cross slopes of up to 1:25. The nature trail within the Hoe is tarmac with fine gravel, but the seawall path is made of smooth concrete.[9] The area has been used for jogging and fun runs on special occasions.


The ecology of Samphire Hoe includes wildflowers and birds.[10] It is now a chalk meadow-land with a number of nationally rare plant species including the early spider orchid.[10] In July each year, the rock sea lavender blooms, along with rock samphire.[9]

Peregrine falcons have been seen flying along the cliffs.[9] Some stonechats and meadow pipits gather on the meadow, while rock pipits move along the base of the cliffs. House martins make mud nests under the overhangs of the chalk cliffs.[9]


  1. ^ The Official Samphire Hoe website
  2. ^ "Hoe Picnic site". Retrieved 2008-03-26.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Samphire Hoe". Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  4. ^ "Talk on Hoe wildlife". This Is Kent. January 12, 2012. Archived from the original on July 29, 2013.
  5. ^ History of the Hoe
  6. ^ Paul Holt, Shakespeare Cliff - A People's History 1843 to 1973, publ. Dover District Council and White Cliffs Countryside Project, 2008
  7. ^ "General and wildlife information about the Hoe". Archived from the original on 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  8. ^ "Eurotunnel is awarded Green Flag for Samphire Hoe site",, 28 July 2011, webpage: R28.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Kent Downs",, 2004, webpage: K40[permanent dead link].
  10. ^ a b "Samphire Hole - plants",, 2011, webpage: SHplants.

External links[edit]